Sometimes the tiniest, least expensive gifts provide the greatest pleasure. When recipients acknowledge their delight in the manner of the examples below, the result it is a gift to us all.
In 1989 The children’s author Roald Dahl received a small container filled with coloured water, oil and glitter. It was sent by seven year old Amy Coco, who had been inspired by Dahl’s book, The BFG. The author recognized it instantly as ‘a dream in a bottle’. He wrote Amy a sweet letter of thanks;
Of all the thank you letters I have read, the warmest, wittiest and most engaging was written by English writer, Sylvia Townsend Warner. At Christmas 1946, she received a wooden matchbox, from her friend and fellow writer, Alyse Gregory. The box pictured must have been similar;
Here is her response to the gift;
And then, an equally charming afterthought, and postscript;
I once made a matchbox gift for a young visitor. So much fun for me too. This box definitely wasn’t empty though. Oh dear, the new ‘father’ doesn’t look impressed;
During WWI a soldier fighting in France sent a letter to a little girl from Clifton Creek in Victoria, after he received a pair of woolen mittens from her. It was the winter of 1917;
My dear little Friend,
I am writing to thank you most sincerely for the pair of mittens that you made and sent to the front, and which, luckily, were received by me. Although you say they were the first pair you ever made, I think you must have taken a great deal of trouble with them. The boys over here feel very proud of all the little Victorians who have been working so hard making warm things for us to wear during the winter. Most of us had never seen snow before. My home is in Bendigo, and although I have to thank you from many thousands of miles away, still my thoughts always turn to Victoria and her people, who are always doing everything possible to make things easier for us. When you have some time after school write me a little letter and I will write back to you…….T.M.
I must say that my mother-in-law Jean was another person who appreciated the tiniest gift and treasured it forever. When she died I discovered she had kept everything I had given her over the years, right down to a decorated gum leaf from my garden.
We are currently negotiating a terrifying pandemic and an accompanying economic melt-down. It occurs to me that the days of excessive consumerism may be over, and that the ability to find joy in the most simple of gifts will be very important. KEEP SMILING!
I shared this story on the Facebook group I run, Astralian Social History. This response was so touching I shed a few tears. Thanks Evie. You are a good person!